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Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby blinddrew » Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:43 pm

I inevitably use a bit of M/S processing in my mastering stages, I also use it when recording sometimes because I don't have a matched stereo pair and M/S gives you a bit of leeway in that scenario.
Zukan's article on M/S in this month's magazine is full of some interesting ways to use it as well.
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby Chilly Canuck » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:08 am

Whoops, submitted before I finished :o
I'm just a 50 something musician who spent several years as a live sound tech and studio engineer, but I feel people aren't getting the best out of the amazing gear at their disposal.
Maybe it's laziness or not doing their homework and learning how the gear works.
Just my 2c.
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby Chilly Canuck » Thu Oct 31, 2019 6:18 am

Well the post I thought I'd accidentally posted just disappeared. What I meant to say was:

I saw Pink Floyd's Division Bell tour at Montreal's Olympic Stadium in 1994. It's a place known to have terrible acoustics (seating 60,000) but it was probably the best sounding concert I ever attended. Incredible detail.
Then last year I saw Paul McCartney at the Bell Centre, a venue designed with live sound in mind and it was a sloppy mess. The low end was so muddy that it was hard to tell what notes the bass was playing.
I was shocked that 25 years later live sound hadn't gotten better, just a lot worse.
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby Arpangel » Thu Oct 31, 2019 9:25 am

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
Arpangel wrote:M+S stereo? I've tried, have I tried! I just can't be bothered with all that phase reversal and coding and decoding lark...

These days it just involves loading one MS decoder plugin in the DAW... not exactly complicated!

H

In my head I just can't get used to it, I can understand the mono compatibility, and the abillity to alter the stereo width after the event, also in terms of compactness an M+S rig takes up less space.
I have a mic-pre with built in M+S, so that makes it easy, but I seldom use it, don't know why, I just have never got used to it.
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:08 am

Chilly Canuck wrote:I was shocked that 25 years later live sound hadn't gotten better, just a lot worse.
Fundamentally, no matter how good the kit gets, laziness and ignorance never go out of style! ;)
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby CS70 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 10:39 am

blinddrew wrote:
Chilly Canuck wrote:I was shocked that 25 years later live sound hadn't gotten better, just a lot worse.
Fundamentally, no matter how good the kit gets, laziness and ignorance never go out of style! ;)

The Human Factor :bouncy:
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby The Red Bladder » Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:08 pm

Chilly Canuck wrote:I saw Pink Floyd's Division Bell tour at Montreal's Olympic Stadium in 1994. It's a place known to have terrible acoustics (seating 60,000) but it was probably the best sounding concert I ever attended. Incredible detail.
I saw the Division Bell tour several times, as I was doing tech documentation on it and writing up the tour for Studio Sound.

I also saw the 81 tour of The Wall at the Dortmund Westpfallenhalle and the sound can only be described as perfect hi-fi. All the speakers except the subs were flown and the ceiling was fully draped to prevent echo.

I also saw Prince at the same venue and at the insistence of Prince himself, the volumes are about double what the hall could carry. The roof was covered in a huge EV system that was cranked. You could not make out what song he was singing - that is how loud it was! The sound was not in any way distorted at all - it was just too damn loud - and I am a "Turn it up to eleven!" kinda guy!

The message to sound guys is - volume is always comparative. If you sneak the total volume down during a song and then start the next one at a new higher volume, you get every song appearing to be LOUDER than the one before - without that actually happening.

Volume is not an absolute - it is ALWAYS comparative.
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby Mike Monte » Fri Nov 01, 2019 11:03 am

Arpangel wrote:[b]I know larger venues require more amplification, but [b]some engineers seem to go on what's normally done, rather than what needs to be done[/b][/b].

The above quote says it all.
I try to achieve "I need more of ME in the mix (or house)" by lowering the other artifacts in the mix/house.

Doing what's "normally done" is textbook mixing...
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Nov 01, 2019 12:04 pm

blinddrew wrote:
Chilly Canuck wrote:I was shocked that 25 years later live sound hadn't gotten better, just a lot worse.
Fundamentally, no matter how good the kit gets, laziness and ignorance never go out of style! ;)

...the flip side being conscientiousness and competence? Which cant be bought like a sound system?
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Nov 01, 2019 12:08 pm

The Red Bladder wrote:… The message to sound guys is - volume is always comparative. If you sneak the total volume down during a song and then start the next one at a new higher volume, you get every song appearing to be LOUDER than the one before - without that actually happening.

But why would you want the next song to appear to be louder than the one before? Who benefits?
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby Dave B » Fri Nov 01, 2019 12:34 pm

Erm ... the audience kind of demand it ... I've had a few times where someone has come up to me and wanted it louder. Nowadays, I have a DCA fader which is set up to be a DFA and very carefully tweak that until I get a (drunken) happy nod.

In small venues the ability to wander around with an iPad is a mixed blessing ... yes, you aren't in a fixed position where drunken 'experts' come over to tell you you're doing it all wrong, but that just means that you end up going to them ...

I can see how the 'quiet / loud' thing is a good trick to help a band build to big finish. I'll try that one out next time. ta!

:)
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby Wonks » Fri Nov 01, 2019 12:45 pm

Just show them you're paying solitaire on the tablet.

Or walk round with an etch-a-sketch.
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:18 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:But why would you want the next song to appear to be louder than the one before? Who benefits?

Answering in reverse order, the audience benefits because they get more involved with the music and enjoy the gig more, but with slightly less overall sound level exposure. And the PA benefits by not having to be continually pushed louder as the gig progresses.

And the reason you might want to do this is so that each new song starts with maximum impact (assuming that's appropriate for the material) without needing to continually push the levels up throughout the gig.

Obviously, whether this technique is appropriate will depend on the nature of the gig and the material... but it is quite a common technique... and not just in live sound. The same idea is used all the time in radio, TV and film (post-) production where a sound effect or music insert is introduced at the appropriate level for the desired impact, and then gradually eased back to leave space for other elements and allow greater impact for whatever comes next...
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:52 pm

It can be a nice mixing technique as well, when you bring in a new instrument (particularly anything percussive) you can make an entrance with it (as a bit of ear candy) and then subtly back it off to a more appropriate position in the mix.
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Nov 01, 2019 1:53 pm

Tim Gillett wrote:
blinddrew wrote:
Chilly Canuck wrote:I was shocked that 25 years later live sound hadn't gotten better, just a lot worse.
Fundamentally, no matter how good the kit gets, laziness and ignorance never go out of style! ;)

...the flip side being conscientiousness and competence? Which cant be bought like a sound system?
Not sure on your point here Tim? Competence can, of course, be bought in like a system, but you obviously have to pay for it.
It was a joke comment though...
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby The Elf » Fri Nov 01, 2019 2:41 pm

blinddrew wrote:It can be a nice mixing technique as well, when you bring in a new instrument (particularly anything percussive) you can make an entrance with it (as a bit of ear candy) and then subtly back it off to a more appropriate position in the mix.
+1

A good trick is open with solo drums, then pull them back as the rest of the mix builds.
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby Tim Gillett » Fri Nov 01, 2019 3:42 pm

In bands I've played in, we generally adjust the average level of our songs to fit the songs themselves and the context. Ballads generally quieter, fast instrumentals louder, slower instrumentals, like Ashokan Farewell subdued. And an alternation between the louder and quieter songs. Final items usually fast and loud for a rousing upbeat finish. But sometimes at the end of a night's dancing, rather than a screamer, a slow quiet waltz.

I've always felt the biggest deficiencies in live mixes of bands that I've heard or been a part of are a seeming failure to understand that each muso isnt necessarily able to judge how loud his instrument or voice is or needs to be at any particular point in a song. Violins especially are difficult because the instrument is often so incredibly loud in the violinist's own ears that they cant hear too much else! Unless the instrument's level is faded up or down appropriately at the desk such as when accompanying or taking a lead solo, the violin is often either too loud at one point or too quiet at another, or both.

Making the necessary adjustments live on the fly at the desk is not always easy but IME a dedicated, intelligent live soundie who is listening attentively to the music being played and knows pretty much which instruments or voices should be at which level at a given time in a given song, at least makes an attempt.

But there's no substitute for a soundie who already knows the material, the arrangement before the gig and so isn't flying totally by the seat of his pants. Perhaps that's a luxury though.
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby djangodeadman » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:40 pm

How does one report an offensive post on these forums?
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Re: Bad live sound at a time when technology has never been better?

Postby blinddrew » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:42 pm

Using the exclamation mark button at the top right corner of each post.
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